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Saturday, October 19, 2019

Review: The Influence

Director: Denis Rovira van Boekholt
Screenplay: Ramsey Campbell, Michael Gaztambide, Daniel Rissech, and Denis Rovira van Boekholt
Year: 2019

“The Influence” (“La Influencia”) is a horror movie that reached the digital platform Netflix without making much noise, although it has been promoted inside the platform. This is usually not a good signal for any movie and “The Influence” is no exception. In his first full-length feature, director Denis Rovira van Boekholt presents a product that will not do favors for his career.

Alicia returns to the house where she spent her childhood as an adult. Together with her sister, husband, and daughter, she remembers the atrocities that she lived in that house with her sister by the authorship of her mother. Once in the house, where her mother is in a comatose state, things start to take a dark twist when she starts hearing strange noises and supernatural events start taking place that seems to be centered around her daughter Nora.

During the first minutes of the movie, we have the first of many cheap jump scares. This was the first clue revealing that it had a high probability of not being a good movie. Unluckily, this movie confirmed my suspicion and, not only overuses the cheap scares in an ineffective way, but it is not a good story in general. 

The screenplay of “The Influence” is based on the novel by Ramsey Campbell with the same title, and even without having read it, I dare bet that this adaptation is not even close to doing it justice. Since the beginning, the many problems of the screenplay can be seen, as defective dialogues (the closing phrase is from the worst that I can recall) and questionable decisions. While the story moves on these problems are accentuated, as emphasizing on events that don’t do much for the main plot and giving too little explanation about important events, which in this movie causes a lot of confusion, especially in the final stretch where the story takes an unexpected turn, which was not a good decision.

Something that I did like from the movie was the cast and the work they do. The main cast of the protagonist and her family is composed of Manuela Vellés (“Kidnapped”) as Alicia, Maggie Civantos (“Antes de la Quema”) as her sister Sara, Alain Hernández (“El Rei Borni”) as her husband Mikel, and Claudia Placer (“Verónica”) as her daughter Nora. They all do great interpretation, although limited by underdeveloped characters and faulty storytelling.

“The Influence” is a good story resoundingly badly narrated that doesn’t manage to scare and only causes disinterest. The story leaves too many loose ends with the intention that it is the viewer who interprets what happens, but it doesn’t generate enough interest for him to put on this task. It presents a story that mixes elements of haunted house, possession, and witches movies, but uses all the clichés possible in these subgenres to lose any originality that it might have had.

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